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Preaching balanced approaches

January 1, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A SECAD keynote speaker urges field professionals to think holistically
He will have the final opportunity to energize attendees of the SECAD 2010 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, and internationally known clinical trainer Cardwell C. Nuckols, PhD, is likely to present information that will compel professionals of varying viewpoints to keep lines of communication open. Nuckols' approach involves being guided by the research advances of the present without leaving behind the instinctive truths about recovery discovered in the field's early years.

“What I want to do is use a lot of the current research from neuroscience and neurobiology and include a touch of spirituality,” Nuckols explains. “I want to show people that a lot of the new research is underlying what programs and therapists have been doing for many, many years.”

Nuckols will close out the Feb. 21-24 conference for clinical professionals and treatment administrators with a Feb. 24 luncheon keynote entitled “Walk Away Energized With New Skills to Aid in Your Client's Recovery.” Nuckols, a widely published author and lecturer whose first book was the trade bestseller Cocaine: Dependency to Recovery, believes it is possible for clinical professionals burdened by growing caseloads and higher expectations in applying the latest research to remain enthusiastic despite the challenges. He says the spirit of service remains strong in the clinical arena.

“They don't get into the field to retire young,” Nuckols says. Yet clinicians also need to be nurtured. “A clinician doesn't have time to read all the literature,” he says. “There's got to be some bridge.”

Conference highlights

Produced by Vendome Group, publisher of Addiction Professional, SECAD is a collaborative effort of a number of leading professional associations in the field. Partners in the conference are the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP); NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals; the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); and the Software and Technology Vendors' Association (SATVA).

Two new tracks at this year's conference will explore the impact of technology and facility design on the provision of addiction treatment services. Topics in technology will include Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), system integration, methods of reporting, and managing change when implementing new technology. Design-related topics will include the clinical implications of facility design, effects of the environment on patient stress, and facility renovation considerations.

In addition, the winners of Addiction Professional's second annual Outstanding Clinicians Awards will be honored at a Feb. 22 luncheon, which also will feature presentations of the Behavioral Health Champions awards sponsored by Behavioral Healthcare, Addiction Professional's sister publication.

Besides Nuckols, the other keynote presenters at the conference will be two internationally known lecturers who recently have joined new organizations: David Mee-Lee, MD (Feb. 22), who has joined the full-time staff of The Change Companies, and Claudia Black, PhD (Feb. 23), who has become a senior clinical adviser at Las Vegas Recovery Center.

Nuckols says SECAD's foray into more management topics to supplement its traditional clinical base reflects the needs of a changing field. While the early SECAD meetings sponsored by the Charter hospital company in Atlanta were celebrations of recovery and of treatment's pioneers, today's agenda covers the broad base of knowledge that clinicians now must acquire.

“Back then, the field didn't need to understand the day-to-day issues of payer mix and budgeting,” Nuckols says.

Predictions

Nuckols hesitates to offer definitive predictions about the next trends in a field where events often prove even its most learned leaders wrong. He does say that while cognitive-behavioral treatment approaches dominated thinking 20 years ago, and then the field became “overwhelmed with science,” the coming years could be characterized more by a blended approach.

“There's a middle ground in there that's very human,” Nuckols says. “We all need to appreciate one another a little bit better.”

This is reflected in the omnipresent discussions of multiple pathways to recovery, as well as the notion that the recovery environment itself actually can change the neurochemistry of the individual. Nuckols also sees important progress in areas such as nutritional therapies, Eastern medicine approaches and neurofeedback. “I'm hoping things will become a little bit more holistic,” he says.

Nuckols believes the influence of spirituality will remain strong. Studies that have shown little change in individuals' overall sense of well-being despite the emergence of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy point to the importance of spirituality as part of the mix, he says. That, coupled with the difficult economic times and increased stress most face, ensures spirituality's continued prominence.

“People are feeling a real need for connectedness, and a relationship with a Higher Power,” Nuckols says.

Addiction Professional 2010 January-February;8(1):22-24

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